I found this article a few weeks ago before I headed to France and I thought about how it affects me and what I hope to achieve after graduation. I realized that there were benefits and consequences to immersing yourself in another culture, but that living abroad truly does open your mind to experiences that you may have never experienced before, from culture shock to understanding different perspective. The article is called “Travel Much? Living Abroad Tied to Entrepreneurship” written by Jessica Stillman for Inc. Her article is quoted below:
“International travel can make you more creative and a better problem solver, research suggests, but only if you approach the experience right.
What makes a regular person into an entrepreneur? Is it her parents and a particular type of upbringing? Or is it certain born preference and qualities? Maybe a stint at a start-up accelerator or training program can have an influence?
Certainly any and all of these biographical details can contribute to the making of a successful entrepreneur, but so can living abroad, research suggests.
A much discussed 2010 study by professors from INSEAD, the Kellogg School, and Tel Aviv University found that “travel and living abroad have long been seen as good for the soul. What’s perhaps less well known is that they’re also good for the company. People who have international experience or identify with more than one nationality are better problem solvers and display more creativity,” according to the Harvard Business Review.
Clearly, better problem solving abilities and boosted creativity will only be good for your business career, but if you’re still not convinced of the benefits of international travel, a whole host of nomadic entrepreneurs,bloggers, and economics professors (and more economics professors) have expressed why they feel travel is valuable for reasons ranging from conquering fear to heading off future regrets and challenging our bias for the status quo.
But just because lots of folks recommend spending time abroad to aspiring entrepreneurs, doesn’t mean that simply packing your bags and grabbing your passport is enough. It isn’t just important that you travel but also how you travel, according to a series of three studies recently conducted by an Israeli professor. The research shows that that the mental benefits of life abroad only accrue to those who neither cling to their home country nor go completely native. Those who get the most out of travel learn the mental agility to see things from the perspective of both their own culture and the one they’re visiting. Or as the BPD Research Digest reports:
To extract maximum benefit from time in a foreign land, what’s needed is a “bicultural” perspective–the ability to identity with your new home, but all the while continuing to connect with your native country too.
This form of dual acculturation breeds creative and professional success, the new findings suggest, because it encourages a sophisticated style of thought. Juggling the conflicts and complexities of a dual-identity fosters an ability to register multiple perspectives and to understand the conceptual relations between them.
Of course, international travel isn’t a cure all, right for everyone or without its downsides (Ben Casnocha has written thoughtfully about them) but these studies do suggest that it’s an option worth considering for young entrepreneurs.”
While I don’t believe I’ve reached that level, I do hope to find that bicultural perspective by combining what I’ve learned over the last summer and this summer. It has been challenging trying to adapt to another culture, but it has opened up new perspectives for me.
You can read the original article online here: http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/living-abroad-makes-better-entrepreneurs.html#_=_ .